Michelle K. Johnson was born 42 years ago to a poor, unmarried 15-year-old girl, then adopted and raised by middle-class professionals. She speaks lovingly of her adoptive parents, using words like "supportive," "exceptional" and "the best family I could have had for the situation that took place."
Yet she also bluntly calls her adoption "a mistake." Johnson, who is black, contends that growing up in a white family and largely white community exposed her to years of self-esteem and identity problems. She says county officials should have placed her with one of her birth mother's 12 older siblings instead.
"I don't have a crystal ball to know whether things would be better or worse for me, easier or harder," she said. "But it's what should have happened, and my adoptive family agrees."
Although not all adoptees share Johnson's strong views, others are also speaking up about their experiences with adoption. Many share feelings of abandonment, loss and conflicts involving identity.
In Minnesota, home to an estimated 135,000 adopted and fostered adults and children, a novel state program provides them a place to talk. Adoptees Have Answers opened last year to offer services for and about adult adoptees, including support groups, public events and webinars.
The Angrier Adoptee, part 1
5 days ago